Under-pressure manager Rafa Benitez saw his side go behind to a goal from Wales international Simon Church before captain Steven Gerrard grabbed the equaliser from long range.
It was an afternoon of frights for Liverpool who survived an early Reading appeal for a penalty when Gylfi Sigurdsson took a tumble in the penalty area.
Martin Skirtel appeared to have hold of Sigurdsson's shirt just before he fell, but referee Martin Atkinson quickly waved play on.
Reading's goal owed a great deal to the persistence of Poland striker Grzegorz Rasiak. Ryan Bertrand's free-kick from the right appeared to be drifting out for a goal kick, but Rasiak stuck a foot out to hook it back towards goal where Church bundled it over the line from point blank range.
There was a touch of good fortune about Liverpool's equaliser. Gerrard sent a long-range effort towards goal, Dirk Kuyt, played onside by Matt Mills, stuck out a foot but failed to connect.
His movement appeared to wrong-foot Reading keeper Adam Federici, who watched in dismay as the ball went straight into the net.
There was a blow for Reading midway through the second when Federici appeared to pull a muscle clearing the ball into touch.
Substitute keeper Ben Hamer came on for only his third Reading appearance - the previous two being in league cup matches.
Hamer would have had little chance of saving a Fernando Torres effort as the game drifted into injury time, but the Spanish striker put his header over the bar from close range.
Although Reading were 33 places behind Liverpool in the league hierarchy and were coming off a 4-1 thrashing at bottom club Plymouth last week, they were always in the game with a chance.
Watched by former manager Steve Coppell, their performance must have given caretaker boss Brian McDermott hope of getting the job permanently.
For Benitez, his failure to see off lowly Championship side has only added to his problems.